Volume 75, Number 45 | March 29 -April 04 2006

Park to get new, improved PEP’s

The Hudson River Park will have fewer but better trained Park Enforcement Patrol officers this season. The Hudson River Park Trust’s board of directors voted last Thursday to renew the Trust’s contract with the Parks Department for officers to patrol the 5-mile-long West Side waterfront park. The board approved a one-year, $2.1 million contract for the officers.

The PEP’s, as they are known, have provided security for the park since 1999. In response to community complaints about overzealousness by the PEP’s from various park users, including dog walkers, bikers and gays, the Trust last year convened a committee, headed by board of directors member Julie Nadel, to look into the officers’ training and comportment. The end product was a supplemental sensitivity training course the Trust now offers PEP’s assigned to Hudson River Park.

In another change, the Trust this year will contract for 11 full-time PEP’s, as opposed to 22 seasonal officers, which was the park’s complement for the past year.

Although Fishman said, “We’re decreasing by 50 percent in terms of bodies,” she noted that seasonal officers need to call full-time officers for assistance in many situations, including for arrests and ticket writing.
“The [full-time] officer will be shielded — a sworn peace officer, who can write summonses and make arrests. A seasonal officer has a badge, but can’t do this,” explained Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, a Trust board member.

The officers work in the park in three, 8-hour shifts.

Franz Leichter, another Trust board member, expressed concern that the park be sufficiently covered by security officers.

Benepe said the caliber of PEP’s has been improving.

“A concerted effort has been made to raise the quality of the PEP officers,” Benepe said. “All of them now are virtually college graduates.”

Nadel voiced her approval of the switch over to all full-time PEP’s, saying, “They’ll be trained, and they’ll be on top of it.”

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